Generally speaking, someone with the title of Chief Marketing Officer has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in Marketing. Because of this, a CMO is the perfect person to know what is more and less likely to work. So what are the top 5 tried and true marketing strategies that CMOs recommend to other business leaders? As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Paige Arnof-Fenn.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I did not plan on starting a company. I always wanted to go work for a global business and be a Fortune 500 CEO. When I was a student, I looked at leaders like Meg Whitman & Ursula Burns as my role models. I started Mavens & Moguls after beginning my career on Wall Street in the 80s and having a successful career in Corporate America at companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, then working at three different startups as the head of marketing. I took the leap right after 9/11 when the company I worked for cut their marketing—I had nothing to lose. Running a global marketing business provides me a platform to do work I truly enjoy with and for people I respect.
I get to set my priorities, I have time to travel and hang out with my inner circle, and work out every day. It has been a journey to get here but I am lucky to have found it. I love the autonomy, flexibility and the fact that I know every day the impact that I have on my business. When I worked at big companies, I always felt the ball would roll with or without me, that if I got hit by a bus someone new would be in my office right away. Now my DNA is in everything we do and I can trace every decision and sale to something I did or a decision I made and that is incredibly gratifying and fulfilling.
Like most entrepreneurs, I am working harder and longer than ever and I have never been happier. Working for yourself and building a business you started is incredibly rewarding and gratifying. It has been a lot of fun, I joke that I’m an accidental entrepreneur. I knew I had made it as an entrepreneur when Harvard wrote two case studies on my business a few years after I started it—we were very early to pioneer sharing resources on the marketing front (before my company it was really only done with HR, legal and accounting/finance).
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have been so fortunate to have great mentors, champions and role models throughout my career including former bosses, my father, and senior women in organizations where I worked. Finding a mentor, coach, mastermind group, etc. provides support to help navigate challenges along the way—especially when you’re first starting out. As an entrepreneur, these people can also be invaluable sources of inspiration, advice, encouragement and can help you avoid rookie mistakes, be it with hiring, fundraising, or other. They can also make key introductions so that you avoid getting burned by service providers or potential investors who have mixed reputations. I have seen several situations where a lot of time and money could have been wasted but was not.
The person who has always encouraged and supported me as an entrepreneur and has my back is my husband. He also started a company, so he understands the journey of an entrepreneur and has been my sanity check and thinking partner every step of the way. He is both a cheerleader and butt kicker depending on the situation, and I trust his judgment and advice because I know he always has my best interests in mind. I'm very fortunate to have him.
There are times when you need cheerleaders, butt kickers, people who can be counted on for tough love and others to help expand your footprint and elevate your profile in the community. Accountability is so important as an entrepreneur. Having friends and family to keep you grounded and humble is critical, too, as it's easy to lose perspective when you're launching a new business. Having people you trust for judgment and advice who have your best interests in mind is priceless. Entrepreneurship can be consuming if you aren’t careful. In my experience, it takes a village to launch a successful business.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our name really sets us apart, I think. When I started the firm I jokingly referred to the women as the Marketing Mavens and the guys as the Marketing Moguls, and for short I called them Mavens & Moguls—but I never expected it to stick. I did research over e-mail with prospective clients, referrers, media, etc. and tested ~100 names. Mavens & Moguls was one choice on the list and to my great delight and surprise it came out as a clear winner! It has really helped us be memorable and stand out from the pack.
Because I have a hyphenated last name, half the battle is for clients to be able to find you when they need your help. I have had clients tell me they could not remember anything other than my first name & one word of my company so they googled Paige & Mavens and we popped right up. I was at an event one day and a venture capitalist started waving in my direction and shouted "Hi Maven!" across the crowd. Everyone looked my way and we ended up getting introduced to a portfolio company that hired us!
Names contribute to your brand and in our case I think it has been a major plus. Maven is Yiddish for expert and a Mogul is someone of rank, power or distinction in a specified area. I like the alliteration and I think it sets us apart from other consulting firms. It shows a little personality and implies we do not take ourselves too seriously. Would you rather hire "Strategic Marketing Solutions" or Mavens & Moguls? We are 'not your father's Oldsmobile' of marketing firms. If nothing else, our name is a great conversation starter and getting into a conversation is all it takes to open a door.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I think every project is exciting! That's the beauty of running your own business—if you are not genuinely excited by the work, you can pass on it. Finding the right words and pictures to tell great stories that attract more customers to our clients' products and services is incredibly fulfilling.
We recently started working with a tech company that needs trade show materials with a fresh design to reflect the new normal, a new real estate business in need of branding, positioning and messaging, and a healthcare business looking to rebrand with a new name and tagline. We continue to conduct market research for B2B tech companies, build websites for B2B and B2C companies, and aid in the creative development of nonprofits.
With so many different types of marketing, has any one area had a bigger impact on your business over the rest? Have any of these changed over time?
There are so many tools in the marketing toolkit today but I think it is redundant to say digital marketing because these days truly everything has a digital element. If digital is not part of your strategy, you would not be relevant—simple as that. So digital marketing is marketing today.
I think Thought Leadership is the new PR and leveraging it is the best foundation for an outreach strategy by using social media to build your brand. Activities like hosting webinars and podcasts, speaking at online and offline conferences, writing articles, and building your following on social media all contribute to increased awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community.
How often do you try a new marketing strategy, and which ‘boxes’ does it need to tick before you’re willing to implement it?
I think you always have to have your antenna up in marketing, watching new tools and technologies, gauging new entrants in the market and seeing where there is traction. I follow the data, so when the needle starts to move I begin to find ways to test and learn if it is a good strategy. I am constantly reading and learning about new ways to grow!
In your opinion, is it better to try out new marketing tactics or to stick with what you know works? How do you decide where to allocate budget and resources?
The majority of budgets in my experience get allocated based on historical success but there is always more to test and learn so it’s best to reserve funds for exploration. Depending on your risk profile and industry it could be 10-30% to stay on top of the latest trends.
This is the main question of our interview. Can you please tell us your top five most successful marketing strategies? What kind of results did you see?
1 . Online Marketing - I said it before and I'll say it again: you do not exist today if you cannot be found online. Being invisible online is a terrible strategy, so make sure your site is keyword rich, mobile friendly, fast loading and producing meaningful content. This is the price for effective SEO.
2 . Social media - Technology is 24/7 so it's easy to get sucked into it, but don't let it drive you crazy. You do not need to be everywhere—just pick one or two platforms that are authentic to you. In my experience, influencers and key people need to be on LinkedIn so that they can be found. It adds credibility and transparency when you know the people you are working with have mutual contacts. LinkedIn has become more than an online resume or rolodex, it is the foundation for building trusted relationships in the digital economy.
3 . Content Marketing/Thought Leadership - These are great ways to build your brand, increase visibility, raise your profile and attract more clients. Activities like hosting podcasts/webinars, writing articles, and building your following on social media all contribute to increased awareness and building your credibility with a larger community. Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing blogs in your industry or newsletters of likeminded organizations reaching the same target audience.
4 . Public Relations - PR isn’t expensive. It’s the most cost efficient way to get your story out, so think of it more as an investment. If a story about you in the media leads to new customers or shortens your sales cycle, the cost of hiring a PR firm more than pays for itself pretty quickly. Every time a new article hits, you speak at an event, or are quoted in the media, there is value in that exposure that can lead to instant credibility or third party validation which carries a lot more weight than a paid ad.
5 . Repurposing - To get the most out of your PR, the key is to repurpose content. Try turning a series of articles or blog posts into a book or e–book, then turning every piece of content or media hit into a tweet and share links to it on all your social media platforms. Turn articles into infographics and video your talks to share over social media. Once you have a piece you are happy with, it makes sense to get as much mileage out of it as possible. Find creative ways to leverage your thought leadership so that your audience finds you easily.
Can you share a time when a strategy didn’t deliver the results you expected and what you learned from the experience?
We are constantly tweaking our messaging/offers and pivoting as the market changes and new data becomes available. For example, we test subject lines on e-mail campaigns to maximize open rates and engagement. Listen to your customers. It has become more and more important to use data to define your overall strategy. Businesses have to understand the importance of every piece of data they collect, how it gives deeper insights into behaviors and habits, and how they can use this data to create better marketing material.
What expert tips can you share with those who are just starting to build out their marketing strategy?
Social listening can be a big competitive advantage today because we spend so much time on social media. By listening to online conversations to derive sentiments, there is more context on the source of ideas, complaints, purchase behavior, and macro/micro trends. Using social listening, you can isolate the data you care about and watch for short-term indicators around consumer research to help identify actionable opportunities early.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement to bring a great amount of good, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
I would love to inspire a movement of kindness/generosity and find ways to incorporate the lessons of gratitude, simplicity, friendship and love into the new normal. I feel that we learned a lot in the pandemic over the past few years, and I don't want us to forget that.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!
Thanks so much, it’s been my pleasure! Stay well.